MPAA Employs Dogs to Sniff Out Piracy

Call it a case of improving one’s PR—something that the Motion Picture Association of America desperately needs. Wired reports that in an effort to expand the group’s efforts beyond public relations campaigns and federal lawsuits, they’ve employed man’s best friend. Or, rather, two of them:

“The movie industry’s specially trained dogs, Lucky and Flo, are ferreting out counterfeit DVDs in piracy hotspots around the globe. Trained to sniff out the polycarbonate used in DVDs, the two black Labrador retrievers have recovered millions of pirated discs, and collared dozens of counterfeiters in the United States, the Czech Republic, Malaysia and elsewhere. In Malaysia, professional counterfeiters are believed to have placed a cash bounty on the heads of the disc-sniffing canines.”

As the article reports, the dogs “illustrate the lengths to which the MPAA is going in search of new and less-controversial tools to combat piracy, which the movie studios’ lobbying arm claims costs them billions in lost revenue every year.”

Recent efforts have been less than successful, not to mention eyebrow-raising. For example, the report said that in 2005, the Los Angeles-based group paid a hacker $15,000 for stolen internal records about TorrentSpy, a BitTorrent search engine that went defunct under the weight of an MPAA lawsuit. And tricks like poisoning BitTorrent tracker sites with fake seeds have been likened to denial-of-service attacks by critics.

What the dogs are going after is the real stuff, however—large-scale piracy, not dead grandmothers who supposedly had a clip from Lost pass through her cable modem at some point.